Do you ever feel really old and really young at the same time?
This weekend, my wife and I went rock climbing with our daughter’s competitive climbing team. It was a road trip to a national park that is known for phenomenal bouldering. The team is of mixed ages (11-18) and their coach is about 25, so we went to provide some of there climbers with a ride. But we also decided to stay and climb with them.
This was a pretty serious climbing mega so, including the 12 of us, there were about 50 climbers there. It was one of the first climbing weekend of the season, so there was still a fair bit of snow on the ground and the rock was pretty cold, especially in the shady areas. All this to say, it was a pretty hardcore crowd and my wife and I were by far the oldest (we’re ‘only’ early 40s, but bouldering, it seems, is a young person’s sport) and certainly the least experienced. It was interesting because in the gym, we always feel like we’re pretty average, or even above average, but it seems its only the pretty seriously climbers that make the trek to the outdoor venues. So, from the get-go, we knew this would be a challenge.
It was an interesting and amazing experience. A few observations:
– the climbing community is made up of wonderful people. Despite it being clear we were on different/lower level or ability, other climbers were constantly encouraging us, suggesting routes we might like and ensuring we got equal time on the rock. Even amongst the best climbers (and there were two of the top boulders in the country who happened to be there) there was no snobbery or elitism that would make us feel intimidated
– We felt amazing, hanging out, climbing and laughing with all of these fun, athletic young climbers. To be in the wilderness pushing yourself, in the company of such amazing athletes. I almost felt like a 20 year old again;
– It was really, really hard. There is something about being with people who are well above your caliber that forces you to bring out your best game; I have never climbed so hard in my life. Yet, I really didn’t do that well; despite my very best effort, I was amazed to see them do effortless, what I was killing myself to do. The few routes my wife and I were able to do were little more than advanced warm-ups for most of the others there. It was truly humbling.
My point: sometimes it is possible to feel young and old at the same time. Climbing with these kids and reflecting back on the experience, it was absolutely exhilarating. I felt like I was 20 years old and ready to set off on a cross country climbing road trip. At the same time, I felt like I was 100 years old and in desperate need of a deep tissue massage and a hot cup of tea to allow my tired, weary muscles to recuperate form the crazy things I did.